New Delhi: As coronavirus continues to disrupt lives across the globe, a lot of myths and misinformation around the virus is further deepening the crisis and one of the culprits behind is social media. With a lot of time at hand, people staying indoors are increasingly turning to social media for updates on the virus and are falling prey to fake news. Also Read - Indigenous Assamese Don't Get Coronavirus? No, Fake News, Says PIB
Now, a study has confirmed that social media has is becoming the primary source of fake news around coronavirus and is also associated with lower levels of information and higher levels of misinformation. Also Read - Fake News Busted: Is Department of Telecom Providing Free Internet to All Users by May 3?
As per the study, people who relied on social media or conservative news outlets in early days of the COVID-19 outbreak were more likely to be misinformed about how to prevent the virus and believe conspiracy theories about it.
The Annenberg Science Knowledge (ASK) survey on COVID-19 which was conducted in early March, among 1,008 US adults, found that more than 23 per cent people thought it was probably or definitely true that the Chinese had created the virus as a bio weapon.
When it comes to prevention of virus, more than 21 per cent people in the survey thought taking vitamin C can probably or definitely prevent infection by the coronavirus.
Further, people who used web aggregators (such as Google News, Yahoo News) were less likely to believe in the effectiveness of handwashing and avoidance of symptomatic individuals as ways to prevent transmission of the virus.
On the contrary, people who consumed mainstream print news were more likely to hold accurate beliefs about the virus and had lower levels of misinformation.
“Because both information and misinformation can affect behaviour, we all ought be doing our part not only to increase essential knowledge about SARS-CoV-2, but also to interdict the spread of deceptions about its origins, prevention, and effects,” said study co-author Kathleen Hall Jamieson.
(With Agency inputs)